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Did you know that women are at a higher risk for certain lung diseases? The number of U.S. women diagnosed with lung disease is on the rise, but you can take steps toward prevention. 

This Women’s Lung Health Month, learn more about common signs and symptoms as well as how you can improve your lung health from some of Memorial Health System’s pulmonologists, Dr. Summer Allen and Dr. Jay Segarra.

What type of lung-related issues are more common in women than men?

Dr. Allen: Women tend to suffer from bronchiectasis, asthma, pulmonary hypertension and lung cancer in nonsmokers more than men.

Dr. Segarra: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is becoming more common in women than men for two reasons. Women have a more difficult time quitting smoking than men do, which is beginning to alter the demographics on COPD. Women are more susceptible to small airways disease than men, which explains the higher incidence of chronic bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis in women.

What are the signs and symptoms of these issues?

Dr. Allen: Cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, low oxygen, and passing out are all signs and symptoms of lung diseases.

What can women do to improve their lung health?

Dr. Segarra: The biggest thing women can do for their lung health, by far bigger than any other thing, is to quit smoking. If you are not a smoker, never become one. If you are a smoker or have been a lifelong smoker who has quit relatively recently, talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening by Low Dose Chest CT Scanning (LDCT). Some other tips include avoiding prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, exercise regularly, remember that cigars, vaping, and cannabis smoking is also harmful to the lungs, avoid triggers that may precipitate an attack if you have asthma or COPD, and try to maintain a healthy weight.

What do you wish women knew more about their lung health?

Dr. Allen: Take time to see a doctor for a chronic cough or other symptoms. Also, know your family history and if there is lung disease in your family.

Dr. Segarra: What I wish women knew about themselves, and their lungs, is that they are likely to live 80+ years, but you are born with only one set of lungs. Cherish them!

Memorial’s award-winning pulmonologists diagnose and treat disorders of the lungs and respiratory system. No referral is needed to make an appointment with our leading-edge specialists. Learn more by clicking the button below.

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